Chemistry class became a tasty treat for sixth grade students at King School when they used cookies to examine the physical properties of matter last week. Middle school teacher Katie O’Connor led the students in an exercise on identifying properties of matter by studying the characteristics that make each cookie unique.
O’Connor introduced matter as anything that has mass and volume. Mass is the amount of matter in an object, which is usually measured in grams or kilograms, and volume is the amount of space that matter takes up. She then prompted the class with a question: How can we describe matter using our cookies?
The students began documenting the physical properties of their cookies on worksheets. They weighed the cookies, measured them with a ruler, and observed the distinctive placement of chocolate chips that would make it easy for the students to recognize their cookies.
O’Connor then collected the samples and mixed them up, asking the students to use their worksheets to identify their exact cookies. The classroom buzzed with curiosity, speculation, and laughter as the students huddled over the baked goods to determine their rightful owners.
They then swapped worksheets with a partner and repeated the exercise. This time, in search of a new cookie using the descriptors from their partner.
At the end of the exercise, O’Connor asked, “What kind of observations and descriptions were most helpful in identifying the cookies?”
“I thought the location of the chocolate chips was helpful because they’re not all placed exactly the same way on each cookie,” said an enthusiastic Oliver Lacour ’28.
Alternatively, Jiya Dohil ’28 noted that the texture of the cookies did not help identify the properties of matter that made hers stand out. “Since they’re all from the same recipe, they are all more or less the same texture,” she said.
“That’s right!” said O’Connor. “Since all of the cookies came from the same bag and brand, they all go through quality control. The weight of the cookies would likely come in around the same as well, which is why most of you did not use your scales to identify your cookies.”
At the end of the class, the students were finally permitted to eat their cookies, a tasty way to conclude the chemistry lesson.